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168 The Pitcaim Islanders.
affairs ; and the only difficulty I have to contend against is the
presence of these three bad characters upon the island. I hope
that before long one of his Majesty's ships of war may come and
take them off, when I should have but little if any difficulty in
bringing the natives back again to their duty and best interest.
Although I have, perhaps, effected more than could have been
expected in so short a time, under the circumstances, and not pos-
sessing any public authority thus to keep in check these men,
I shall continue to maintain peace and quietness among them
in the best way I can, until I can have the honour of hearing from
your Lordship, as to whether his Majesty's government would not
be pleased to nominate me its agent for good here, the object
being merely to have authority to keep things in order among
these poor people. I am now acting as their minister (preaching
twice on each Sunday, besides a lecture), their doctor, school-
master, &c. ; and, with the sanction and assistance of your Lord-
ship, I have no doubt that I could make of these natives one of the
most happy people whatever.
I want very much a medicine chest and instruments, and books
to accompany it. 1 have the honour, &c. Joshua Hill.
From the same to the same : —
Pitcairn's Island, May, 1833.
His Majesty's ship Challenger, under the command of Captain
Freemantle, has just arrived here, last from Otaheite, and pre-
viously from Sidney, bringing the duck, soap, &c. which the
British government has been so kind as to send for these people,
and for which they feel highly grateful. But I lament to say that
Captain Freemantle does not feel himself authorized to take off
the three Englishmen ; which is the more to be regretted as con-
siderable time may elapse before another ship of war may come
here. But he has done for the best. I will look forward, and
do the best I possibly can in the interval. &c, &c.
XI. — Extracts from a Private Journal kept on board H.M.S.
Seringapafam, in the Pacific, 1830. Communicated by Captain
the Hon. W. Waldegrave, R.N. Read 24th June, 1833.
Marquesas. — Nouhevah — The only island we visited was Nou-
hevah. It is mountainous and rugged, with precipitous sides;
the mountains are high, and appear to bar communication to the
inhabitants, separated from each other by these high ridges. The
whole island is of volcanic origin, and its soil is rich ; in the val-
leys, it is clay mixed with vegetable mould ; on the bills, it
South Sea Islands. 1 69
is thin, growing a coarse grass, in tufts : — this soil appears to be
formed from the action of the atmosphere upon the rock.
On the 27th March we anchored in Comptroller's Bay, and
were much delighted with the magnificent richness of the scenery,
a beautiful harbour facing the south ; to the north, steep hills,
with undulating ridges, covered with thin verdure from the sum-
mit to the sea. Over the village, which is not seen from the
anchorage, are cocoa-nut trees and bananas ; in the gullies and
vales, the natives build their huts, under the shade of their fine
trees, which grow there in great luxuriance.
Fifty-six years have passed since Captain Cook visited the
Marquesas, and fifteen years have also passed since the Briton
touched at Port Anna Maria Nouhevah ; Captain Cook, and
after him, Captain Pipon, speak in terms of admiration of the
figures of these islanders. I confess, however, that I was much
disappointed : we saw, probably, four hundred men and about as
many women, the inhabitants of Comptroller's and Edmonstone's
Bays, and of Port Baker ; the men, with few exceptions, were
below five feet ten inches in height, and averaged about five feet
six or seven, with stout muscular arms and chests, long backs,
short thighs, long legs — the legs not muscular ; the women, who
swam on board, were short, much in-kneed, walked awkwardly,
with long backs, short thighs, — the majority under five feet two
inches. The tallest man we saw measured six feet and three-
quarters of an inch.
The chief . . . 6 ft. Jin.
Another man . . 5 3|
The tallest woman on board 5 5^
Another . . . 5 2|
A third . . . 4 10
Their complexion is a dark copper ; the women very much lighter.
During our excursions we saw no cultivation except of tobacco,
which was protected by a cane-fence. Their food appeared to
be bread-fruit, cocoa-nuts, plantains, fish, and hogs — the latter
particularly fine and well-tasted.
Their huts were parallelograms, built on a platform of large
stones, raised one or two feet from the ground : they are of wood
or cane ; the front, a low upright wall, four feet high, with a door
in the centre ; the opposite side is ten feet high, not upright, but
leaning inwards. These walls support the roof, which falls from
the upper to the lower wall. The gable-ends are upright; the
roof thatched with the leaves of the screw-pine, palm, bread-fruit,
and cane, interwoven. The insides are generally divided by a
board, lengthways ; within this partition the sleeping-mats are
spread, and in one corner stand the household cups, troughs, &c
170 South Sea Islands.
We saw no sick, except a chief in a consumption, but many
were afflicted with a serious cutaneous disease, either confined to
particular parts or spread over the whole surface. The oldest
man was blind.
The clothing of the men consisted solely of the mara, or waist-
cloth ; the women were dressed in the tapa, or paper-mulberry
cloth, a long piece being knotted over the right shoulder, passing
under the left arm, and showing the whoie of the left arm, part of
the bosom, and neck, but concealing the waist and legs. Some
of the more retired wore a piece of cloth on the head, to contain
the hair, ornamented with a bandeau of flowers. All the men
wore shells in their ears ; and a few, wreaths of cock's feathers,
besides their arms, war-clubs, and spears.
They appeared to be very indolent, except when employed by
us, nature providing most liberally for them without labour.
During the day they sat collected in groups, either in their huts
or under the shadow of trees ; the women lying at length. In
this manner they passed the day — sleeping frequently : as we
were not on shore during the night, I can say nothing of what
passed after sunset : yet this indolence is quite compatible with a
warlike people. They are proud of showing their wounds, either
of musket-balls or from other weapons. Whilst accompanying
us, it gave them great delight to show us how they attacked, de-
fended, or opposed their enemies on the hills.
During our stay our reception was courteous and kind to the
last degree. They are extremely honest ; sometimes one hundred
natives would be on board at the same time, on the upper, main,
and lower decks, yet, in five days, we only detected two instances
of theft on board and one on shore, in each of which the thief was
unsuccessful. In the latter case they assisted to discover the thief.
In our excursions they carried many little things for us, and re-
turned them safe, receiving any little reward. They are excellent
mimics, imitating any peculiarity of voice or gait, to their and our
amusement. In their traffic they were suspicious, never parting
with the article until the bargain was made.
Both sexes swam on board naked ; every man or boy, who
swam on board, had the prepuce of the penis tied with a piece
of string, so as to protect the penis from any injury. The instant
a woman landed, aprons were made of grass, or of any leaf at
hand, which served until they reached the hut, where they dressed.
It was disgusting to witness the lasciviousness of these people.
Women swam on board in crowds ; and, the instant we landed,
they were offered to us in the most unreserved manner. On the
beach, near the watering party, sat an elderly man, oil his left
an elderly woman ; on their left, near to them, sat a blooming
young woman of eighteen, suckling her child ; the old woman
South Sea Islands. 171
addressed me, saying ' Eireeka waheina,' pointing with one hand
to this fine creature, and with the other to a hut : not attending
to it, the man repeated the offer in the same words and action.
To one of the officers, who stood in a circle of several women,
each of them offered herself or her neighbour. Another officer
went from hut to hut, to examine them ; most were empty — but
in one he found an aged man, woman, and two children, — the
eldest child was a girl between six and seven years old ; the wo-
man first offered the child, saying " Waheina," and, he declining,
the man brought her next, by signs expressing his consent. Many
of the women swam on board towed by some man, but we ob-
served that the same man never accompanied the same woman
twice — he was to be paid by any present made to her. We
certainly saw some women who sat apart, and were fairer,
taller, and of better figures, who were courteous and civil, but
The old men appeared to have been much stronger than the
present race. Whilst exploring the hills, the natives would squat
twenty times in an hour to rest. Might not this degeneracy arise
from the early and promiscuous intercourse of the sexes 1 Con-
trasting these natives with the natives of Pitcairn's Island, how
marked is the difference in the result of a virtuous and modest life
to that of a vicious and immoral one ! At Pitcairn's Island the
men would carry down or up the cliff a cask containing fourteen
gallons of water, or a wheelbarrow of equal weight ; no weight
appeared to be too great, and no labour to tire them. The Pit-
cairn women were also tall, well-shaped, modest, civil, and
We observed marks of musket-balls on the bodies of several of
the natives : they were also extremely eager for gunpowder, and at
first refused to barter hogs for anything but gunpowder ; but I was
determined not to give them any. I offered dungaree, hatchets,
knives, fish-hooks, in vain — they expressed by signs that the gun-
powder was to fight the inhabitants of other islands, but I did not
consider myself justified in putting so dreadful an instrument into
their power. The day after our arrival in Port Baker, whilst
busy watering, a message was sent to me from Lieut. Paulson,
who had charge of the watering party, that he observed dissatis-
faction amongst the natives because gunpowder was not given.
By signs and words they expressed that the water was theirs, and
began to hinder the watering. Immediately the general signal of
recall was made, and the natives observed the empty water-casks
rolling back to the boats — the officers and men hastening to them
— the women and children being at the same time driven from the
beach ; on which some of the men fled — others remained, assum-
ing an attitude of anger and dismay at the expectation of some
] 72 South Sea Islands.
dreadful event. I then went to the beach with presents of
hatchets, dungaree, a few of my own shirts, and knives, and sent
a sergeant of marines to see if a chief was there ; the clergyman
joined me — we were carried on shore; the instant they saw me,
an elderly man ordered the people to sit down in a circle, three or
four deep, a side being left open to the beach. I distributed
three hatchets and two shirts, when they sent for the chief, who
appeared in a few minutes, looking grave, angry, and disappointed.
I presented him with two hatchets and a piece of dungaree; but
his countenance not improving, I presented him with a black silk
handkerchief, and pulled off my uniform jacket and put it on him.
This gave satisfaction. They told me to come to water to-
morrow — a pig was given to me — and, on my return on board, a
canoe was sent with a present of plantains, cocoa-nuts, and sugar-
cane. The following morning, two more pigs and fruits were
sent, and the chief came on board, accompanied by his father.
After breakfast, he again pressed me to give gunpowder, and
offered twenty pigs for a barrel. Upon declining, he requested
that a canonade might be fired, to which I objected, and his
countenance became clouded. At nine o'clock, I went on shore,
and ascended the hill which separates Port Baker from another
bay. On my way I was received with great kindness — the wo-
men courteous, and in the most winning manner making very
liberal offers. I made them several little presents of ribbon,
It is usual for merchant vessels to give muskets and gunpowder
in barter. Several muskets were thus seen ; and I ascertained,
beyond a doubt, that the gunpowder was to be used against a
neighbouring tribe, ' Harpais,' in the same island. I declined
firing a canonade, lest the effect produced by the shot might in-
duce the chief to demand a gun and ammunition from the first
merchant vessel touching at this port.
Mr. Guthrie, the surgeon, from a conversation, carried on
by signs and words ill understood, is of opinion, that the island of
ISouhevah is inhabited by five tribes of Typees and two of
Harpais ; that the Typees and Harpais were at war, and were
I saw one double canoe which measured twenty of my steps,
and was capable of carrying sixty men. At one end were two
skulls and two war-clubs ; and some shells were fastened to the
canoe. A man sat guarding it.
We saw no temple or place of worship, nor any signs of reli-
gious worship. We had no interpreter, therefore all our informa-
tion was obtained by signs or words ill understood ; yet I be-
lieve that the information here contained is correct.
South Sea Islands. 173
The timber seen on the island was as follows : —
Timber Trees. — Santalum album (saw only part of the root and stem).
Swietenia mahagoni (saw only the seed).
Fruit Trees and Esculents. — Cocos nucifera . the Cocoa-nut.
Artocarpus incisa ..... Bread-fruit.
Carica papaya ..... Papavv.
Musa sapientum ..... Banana.
paradisiaca .... Plantain.
Caladium sagittifolium . . . Taro.
Convolvulus Batatas .... Sweet potato.
Miscellaneous. — Guilandina honduc . Morinda citrifolia.
Laurus sp. . . . . . Ageratum conyzoides.
CofFea sp. Kennedia, sp. nov.
Ricinus palma christi . . . Urena, sp. nov.
Morus chinensis .... Abrus precatorius.
Nicotiana Tabacum . . . Convolvulus, 3 sp.
Tabernaemontana coronaria . . Cucumis chate.
Polypodium aureum ... 2 species of grass.
Hibiscus rosa sinensis simplex.
rosa sinensis duplex.
Society Isles. — Otaheite — The form of government is an
absolute despotism, the king or queen possessing a most absolute
power over the land in the islands.
The islands acknowledging the sway of Queen Pomarre
are Otaheite and Eimeo (Raiatea, Huaheine, and Bona-bona
being independent) ; her revenue consists of taxes of cloth, oil,
pigs, and arrow-root. She has generally a large retinue, and with
these maintains her court : she is sixteen years of age, is married,
and a Christian, but has no children.
The religion is the Christian ; they'are ignorant of sects, and
worship in the Presbyterian form ; the majority, excepting the
court and the inhabitants of Papeete, are strict in their observance
of Christian duties ; the queen is young, and irreligious : the inhabi-
tants of Papeete abandon themselves to the sensuality of a sea-port.
The land was always the absolute property of the king or
queen ; his word or order could displace and -place any chief or
person in any district or spot — no question was ever made of the
propriety, but each obeyed ; and each chief also possessed the
same absolute power over the land of each individual living in his
district, — he could remove, banish the occupier, and put others in
his place, or take it to himself; the king having, however, a su-
preme power over chief and tenant.
] 74 South Sea Islands.
The laws of the person and chattel property have been esta-
blished since the conversion of the islands to Christianity. They
were adopted in full assembly of the chiefs and people, assisted
by the missionaries, who digested and wrote them. They are de-
rived from the Pentateuch, and regard robbery, adultery, remov-
ing landmarks, &c. They are headed by a declaration of the
islands subject to them, of the districts and other divisions and
subdivisions, the governors, judges, and constables of each dis-
trict, village, and place.
An offender against the law is seized by the constable, who
takes him and the witnesses before the judges, who publicly con-
vict or acquit the prisoner. The punishments are, repairing the
highways, making cloth, forfeiture of hogs, whipping, banish-
ment — for murder, banishment. These laws have, in some mea-
sure, outrun the knowledge of the Otaheitans, but they are daily
becoming better informed, and appear to be well pleased with
them. No law exists restraining the power of the king over the
land : a few years must pass before any law on this subject can
be received, as the people are not ripe for it; but until a law
passes giving a title to land in the proper owner, no great step
can be made in commerce .
Population.— Turaboo, 2000; Otaheite, 5000 ; Eimeo, 1300;
Huaheine, 2000; Raiatea, 1700; Bona-bona, 1800; Tahaa,
1000; Menra, 1000; by a census made by the missionaries,
It is lamentable to compare these returns with the supposed
returns of Captain Cook fifty years ago ; but the vices of the
people were such, that nothing but the abandonment of Paganism,
and the conversion to Christianity, could have saved the remnant.
The venereal disease has assisted in some small degree, but in-
fanticide was practised to such an extent, particularly of the
females, that nothing could have saved the remnant except Chris-
tianity. To a question put by myself to Hitoti the chief, about
Viratoa, the chief of Tiaraboo — ' Had not the chief more children
than this one son and daughter of whom he is so proud?' — ' Yes,
tens and tens.' ' Where are they V — ' All destroyed.' The
leason usually assigned was to render the women more pleasing.
Abortion also was practised. The males at Otaheite at present
far exceed the females in number. We saw many children and
young persons, but very few above fifty years of age.
These islands could produce anything that will grow within the
tropics, but until a change takes place in the habits and disposi-
tions of the people,, no trade can thrive. The missionaries have
planted cotton, and the produce is of the first quality, but they
could not command labour. The indolence of the natives was such,
South Sea Islands. ] 75
and they demanded a price so enormous for their work, that the
culture was abandoned. The same observation applies to indigo,
tobacco, and the sugar-cane ; but with a tuberous-rooted herba-
ceous plant, which they call arrow-root, and which grows without
cultivation, they are more industrious. In the beginning of May
they range the country in search of this, and dig up its roots.
These they wash, rasp, and dry in the sun, and carry them to
the purchaser for sale. Even with this, however, their indo-
lence makes them often hurry the preparation, so that they will
offer it for sale when but ill dried ; yet the root of itself is excel-
lent, and can be exported at threepence per pound. In one year
forty-two tons were sent from Raiatea to New South Wales.
There are two plantations of sugar-cane — one on the north
side, between Pare and Papeeti, owned by Mr. Bicknell, an Eng-
lishman, cultivated by natives, and growing annually from five to
ten tons of sugar, which is sold wholesale at ten dollars the hundred.
The other, on the south side, is cultivated jointly by Captain
Henry and Tarti. This plantation was but ill attended, the
owner having gone in search of sandal-wood : the labourers were
inhabitants of Tongataboo, who, when properly directed, will
woik steadily. The sugar produced was not equal to Mr. Bick-
nell's, although the advantages in situation were greater.
At Eimeo, under the direction of Mr. Armitage, a missionary
artisan, a cotton factory was commenced, but failed from the dif-
ficulty of instructing the natives in the detail. He has since com-
menced one on a more simple plan, and I trust will succeed ;
he induces the natives to grow the cotton and bring it to him ;
they prepare, spin, and weave it under his direction, and receive
the cloth for their own use. The few who have tried this plan,
and received the cotton cloth, are much pleased with the pos-
session. We saw in the spinning-house fifteen girls, and were
told that an equal number of boys attended the factory.
Rope is made at Eimeo under the direction of a Mr. Simpson,
missionary, from the bark of the hibiscus. Accounts differed as
to its qualities, some reporting its excellence, others its ill qua-
lities; but, after a smart discussion, I conclude that the detects
preponderate, the fault lying in the indolence of the manufac-
turers, who do not carefully attend to select the inner bark, and
lay up strips of unequal thickness. No tar or other liquid is
used with it.
Two vessels have been built on this island, one for the use of
the missionaries, the other for purposes of trade. They were
built by European or American workmen, assisted by Otaheitans,
who felled the timber. I can say nothing as to their qualities, as
1 did not see them. The missionaries speak of the excellence
1 76 South Sea Islands.
of the timber. Another vessel was preparing at Mirapaie for
Captain Henry and Tarti.
Tappa or cloth is made, as in all the South Sea Islands, of
the inner bark of the hibiscus, bread-fruit, and paper mulberry tree.
Oil is prepared from the cocoa-nuts, by letting them remain on
the tree until quite ripe ; then the shell is divided, the nut scraped
out, put into heaps in canoes, and, after fermentation, the heap is
occasionally pressed by hand, when it gives out an oil which they
use for general purposes of light.
No real or profitable commerce can exist until real property is
secure by law. Barter exists for hogs and fire-wood in exchange
for calicoes, dungaree, spirits.
The island of Otaheite possesses about three hundred head of
horned cattle of various ages, the missionaries possessing the
greater proportion, though a few chiefs are beginning to have
breeds, and the stock will soon be in many hands. The cattle
were imported by the missionaries from New South Wales, and
are of a particularly fine sort, very fat, and well flavoured, weighing
from 8 to 12 cwt.
Horses are few, there being not above fifteen in the whole
island, imported from Valparaiso. The queen had two very fine
Goats thrive well, are numerous, and would be more so, were
they not destroyed by the dogs. Sheep do not thrive so well ;
their wool becomes entangled in the long grass, and the lambs are
destroyed by dogs ; the feed also is too gross ; a short bite is not
to be met with, the island being understocked.
Pigs thrive, living almost wild on the guavas, cocoa-nuts, and
sweet potato. They grow exceedingly large and good.
The churches, with one exception, and the houses of the mis-
sionaries, are built of wooden frames, filled with wattled hibiscus,
and covered with a compost of sea-sand and lime, which again is
whitewashed. The doors are plain framed, and the windows are
framed with blinds, but few have glass sashes. The usual shape of
the churches is a long oval, the roof of thatch, supported by two
upright posts of the bread-fruit tree, placed near the extremities of
the ovaL on which rests a ridge pole, one end of the rafters resting
on the wall, the other against the ridge pole ; they are smooth, white,
and when new have a very neat appearance. On the floor of bread-
fruit plank are arranged seats of the same shape and size as are
usual in country churches in England ; some few have also a gal-
lery at each end. The service is performed with great order and
reverence, and the singing is in correct time ; but the key is so
high as to make it harsh and unpleasant to Englishmen.
The habitations of the natives are very simple ; oval or oblong,
South Sea Islands. 177
as most convenient, according to the size of the family. The sides
are made of young bamboos, placed perpendicularly, so as freely
to admit the air : the side exposed to the weather is in a small
degree protected by the leaves of the cocoa-nut tree interwoven.
There is one door in the centre.
In few huts is there any furniture, the natives sleeping on mats
placed on the ground, one mat under, one above them, covering
every part of the body from insects. Cocoa-nut shells and gourds
are the only vessels. Food is always dressed either in the open
air or in an adjoining shed. Pigs, poultry, and vegetables are
baked in a hole made in the earth, in which a strong fire has been
made ; when the stones are heated, the fire is removed, and the food
is placed on the stones, covered above and beneath by fresh green
leaves. The cooking is excellent. A few of the chiefs had plas-
tered houses, like the missionaries, with one or two chairs, or a
sofa, chests, and tables. Tarti entertained us with chicken-soup
in a tureen, pancakes, plates, knives, forks, and spoons. He was
the most enterprising chief of the island — and this case was sin-
gular; I was in most of their houses, which are dirty and neglected.
The bridges are wooden logs thrown across a rivulet, and are
so often washed away by the flood that it is uncertain, until at the
bank, whether you are to wade or cross on a log.
Courts of justice are sometimes held in the open air, before the
church, or a chief's house, or in a large building prepared to hold
There is no currency ; Spanish dollars are known, but their
European or American value is unknown. For instance, a quart
bottle of bad spirits, two yards of sixpenny calico, or of one shil-
ling a yard dungaree, or a yard and a half of broad ribbon, are
considered equal to a dollar, the value of which at Sydney is fifty-
The principal chiefs are — Outamun, nearest to the blood-royal ;
Hitoti, Parfai, brothers, the latter secretary of state ; Tarti, and
Viasatoa. The four first are intelligent, respectable men, and sin-
cere Christians ; they are treated with much respect and possess
great influence. Hitoti had the kindness to steer my gig round the
island ; and to him and to the missionaries we were indebted for
much hospitality and attention shown to us. He spoke a few
words in English, and from him I learned the names of the villages,
streams, bays, tribes, &c, which we passed. He introduced me
to his own and Parfai's wife at Tiavi. Their houses were clean,
and themselves neatly dressed in straw bonnets with ribbons and
European calico vests. Hitoti is a large landed proprietor, and
had changed his residence from time to time to be near a mis-
sionary. His house at Tiavi was small, and consisted of two rooms,
1 78 South Sea Islands.
one a sleeping-room, the other a dressing-room. His servants
occupied another house. Parfai's was larger, equally clean, with
a pounded coral floor, a few chests, and other furniture. The
brothers were building a decked boat, of nineteen tons, of native
wood ; the work was good, and he was very proud of it. He
showed me the frame of the new church, which was well con-
structed. When I remarked that I hoped soon to hear that they
were building stone churches and stone houses, he replied, " One
step at a time — we cannot go so fast." Stone is found in great
abundance, either of volcanic rock or of coral, and the coral burns
into excellent lime ; but a second work of such magnitude pro-
bably is too much to expect of the Otaheitans. A stone octagon
church was built at Papetoai, island of Eimeo, of heron coral.
The labour was extreme, and it was some years in building.
The island produces excellent timber in very great abundance.
It is to be found in the interior, on the south side, and all over
Native name — Maivre. Linnean — Artocarpus incisa. This
timber is used for making canoes, planks, upright timbers in
churches, paddles ; a light and soft wood, soon perishes.
Native name — Tumanu, or Ati. Linnean — Calophyllum Ino-
phyllum — with close grain, of a mahogany colour, distinctly
veined ; used as timbers for ship-building and general purposes.
The most useful wood in the island — very plentiful.
Native name — Toi. Linnean — Cordia sebestena. — A fine-
grained wood, fit for joiners' and cabinet-makers' work ; used
for the inside of cabins.
Native name — Amaa-mus. Linnean — Hibiscus sp.; used for
timbers and knees of vessels.
Native name — Hutu. Linnean — Barringtonia speciosa — for
timbers and plank — scarce.
Native name. — Pureau. Linnean — Hibiscus tiliaceus — for
planks, knees, and timber ; a light, soft grain, — very ordinary :
its principal use is for rafters, for which purpose the young and
luxuriant shoots are used, stripped of their bark. Very plentiful.
Cordage is also made from its inner bark.
Native name — Ailo (iron wood). Linnean — Casuarina equise-
tifolia ; a hard, heavy, close-grained wood ; used for treenails.
One of the best timber trees — of large size, and in great abun-
Native name — Apape ; for masts, planks, and general use.
Native name — Mara ; for keels.
Native name — Faifai ; for masts, planks, and general use.
Native name — Mape. Linnean — Inocarpus edulis ; a large
tree — soft wood, of little value.
South Sea Islands. 179
Linnean — Ficus tinctoria ; small timber tree : used in dyeing,
and for fire- wood.
Linnean — Ficus Indica — one of the largest trees ; but useless.
Linnean — Tournefortia — a large tree, and scarce.
Raiatea. — Raiatea is an independent island. The king, To-
matoa, is maternal grandfather to Pomarre, queen of Otaheite.
The island acknowledges a political union,- but does not admit of
the supremacy of the latter: its population is about 1700, and
rapidly on the increase. The religion is Christian ; and the spot
where the king resides has been fixed as the seat of the mission.
The harbour is excellent ; but the situation of the village is low
and swampy ; it was chosen as being the central point of conve-
nience for both sides of the island, and for the inhabitants of
Tahaa. Another spot was selected, eight miles to the south,
where the land was higher, drier, and the valley or low ground
between the sea and the mountain much wider; but it was suited
solely to the inhabitants on the east face, not to the western face,
therefore it was abandoned. The outward appearance of the
houses is better than at Otaheite, being white-limed and plas-
tered ; but the inside is equally filthy.
The people are indolent, yet, through the persevering acti-
vity of the missionary, Mr. Williams, they have made greater
advances towards industry than on any of the three other islands.
They have built seven vessels of forty tons, which are in use at
this moment, but two want paint and pitch, which causes a pre-
mature decay. The vessels are entirely built of native timber ;
and the rope is also indigenous. The iron is imported. They ex-
port a considerable quantity of good arrow-root : one year they
sold forty tons — this year, thirty tons have been already sold.
When exported to Sidney, it fetches three-pence per pound
Before taking leave of the Society Isles, I shall endeavour to
give my opinion as to the religion, morals, &c. of these people.
Every navigator has described them as warlike, effeminate, in-
dolent, lascivious, addicted to thieving ; and now that they have
become Christians, inquiry is made in what have they improved?
The answer will be, that the sum of crime is much diminished,
although the tenets of the Gospel have not in many taken deep
root ; infanticide has ceased ; wars have ceased ; women are con-
sidered as equal, not inferior to men ; the children are more re-
garded by their parents; the women possess an influence over
their husbands, which causes them to be treated with attention,
lest the husband should lose the wife, as she would soon find a
husband ready to receive her, and treat her with more kindness j
180 South Sea Islands.
and the result of this is, that infidelity is more common amongst
the women than amongst the men, the attachment being stronger
on the male than the female side. Jealousy is felt powerfully by
the Otaheitans for adulteries committed amongst themselves ; but
it is supposed that a woman never receives the embraces of a
foreigner except with the consent, and for the gain of the hus-
band. During the day all are decorous; but after dark, women
are to be met with, waiting to entice ; and husband and father are
alike ready to offer their wife or daughter. At Raiatea, the
queen's mother not only indulged herself in this crime, but was
the common procuress, receiving the profits. The house of the
queen of Otaheite was, in like manner, the scene of the most
abandoned profligacy. Pomarre, the king, a large young man of
eighteen, sat in the room, a witness to, and indifferent to, the
addresses paid to his wife, or the open debauchery of his mother-
in-law : and every wanton and abandoned woman was to be here
met with, ready to receive the embraces of any. As the offenders
are young persons, encouraged by the elder, I see no human pro-
bability of improvement, unless the queen of Otaheite, her mo-
ther, and aunt could be put aside, as they are protectors of the
abandoned and profligate, in defiance of the laws.
The chiefs of Otaheite, Eimeo, Huaheine, and Raiatea ap-
peared to be sincere in their religion ; and the majority testified it
by the correctness of their lives, and the support they gave to the
missionaries. Their authority is much limited by the new reli-
gion ; yet, in conversation, they confess how much happier they
now are, in meeting each other in peace and in friendly visits, than
they were during the reign of paganism and of war.
The missionaries are men of correct lives, and much devoted to
the duties of their service. To them these islands are accordingly
much indebted, not only for the blessings of the gospel, but for
the good example they have shown, and the arts they have intro-
duced. Their wives appeared also to be admirably suited to
their stations — seconded their husbands by their attention to do-
mestic duties and the care of the children. But the missionaries
are all engaged in trade, which 1 am afraid interferes in some de-
gree with their usefulness. At present they have the mouopoly
of cattle, so that the shipping are almost wholly supplied with
fresh beef by them. They also appeared to deal in cocoa-nut oil
and arrow-root. To myself the natives were not very communi-
cative ; but from the little 1 saw of the consequences of this, I
was persuaded that it was not beneficial.
Mr. Williams has instructed them in ship-building and rope-
making; Messrs. Blossom and Armitage in cotton-spinning,
weaving, carpenters' and joiners' work. Tobacco and cotton were
South Sea Islands. 181
planted, succeeded, but at present do not exist — except as speci-
mens in gardens or private use — indigo. A mystery hung about
all these attempts, which, from my ignorance of Otaheitans, I
could never resolve. The missionaries for their own use make
excellent soap, yet not a native can, or does make any ; the in-
gredients, cocoa-nut oil, wood, ashes, and lime, are in the greatest
abundance. Mr. Nott broadly states that no trade or cultivation
can exist, as labour cannot be purchased or commanded. Our
stay was too limited to judge of the correctness of this state-
ment : but in idle employments, as guides, pilots, searchers for
food or shells, we found many ready to assist. We met also
with six carpenters, and some rope-makers, but no stone-masons
or other mechanics. One trading vessel arrived while we were
there — a French brig, belonging to the firm of Green and Mo-
lineux, Valparaiso ; Mr. Molineux was on board, and I conversed
with him : he was purchasing cocoa-nut oil, arrow-root, tumanu
wood, and sugar, with ribbons, cloth, &c. ; he appeared to
have employed the missionaries as agents to collect these articles
for him, and thus again the missionaries appeared as sole middle-
men between the natives and the purchaser. At Otaheite, a Spa-
nish dollar, a bottle of rum or brandy, a fathom of shilling calico,
were deemed equivalent. I proposed to the missionaries to write
a letter stating what articles were equivalent at Sidney and Val-
paraiso, but an objection was made, saying that the value of each
article was known, but custom decided against the adoption of a
At Raiatea, clothes, not money nor rum, were desired in pay-
ment for washing, shells, or mats. The people were in general
well clothed in calico shirts, the women in silk ribbons, English
and Chinese shawls, &c. Each missionary had a store of iron-
mongery and haberdashery, and all were in good circumstances,
possessing property in some shape, and appearing eager and ready
The people are clean in their persons, washing twice each day
or oftener, yet their huts are wretched, situated in swamps or bogs,
made of cane, with thatched roofs without, and within untidy, with
very little furniture. The mat spread on the plucked grass makes a
sort of field-bed for the family ; few possess a bedstead or other
comforts. A reason given for the inattention to garden cultivation
was, ' that custom permitted the idle to take a share of the crop
of the industrious,' so that the instant a crop was seen, a message
from a chief arrived, asking for a portion ; and if this was refused,
a part or the whole was openly taken from the grower.
At the moment we arrived, the islands appeared to be in a
middle or conflicting state, between the habits and customs of
1 82 South Sea Islands.
idolatry and the infused but dark knowledge of their rights by the
written law. The chiefs were claiming the prerogatives of the
former state, which were assented to or refused, according to the
ignorance or information of the vassal.
1 was told that the Missionary Society in England had thoughts
of withdrawing their missions from the Society Islands, beeause
they were Christians, and ought to raise native clergy ; and that
their funds might be applied to heathen countries. But at pre-
sent the people are not ripe for this great change, and it would be
cruel to attempt it. They are not fit to go alone ; they would not
at present respect a native teacher ; neither would they maintain
a native in the same manner as they build for and feed the British
missionary : nor would it be well to attempt it until the pre-
rogatives of the chiefs, and the rights of the people, as to pro-
perty and person, are well_ established and acknowledged by
A strange anomaly exists in the history of Otaheite, which at
first surprises and perplexes the stranger, and induces him to draw
unfavourable conclusions respecting the missionaries ; but on in-
quiry and further intercourse, this is found to arise from habits
and circumstances over which the missionaries have no control.
Thirty-four years have passed since the first missionaries landed ;
they were treated with every contempt which ridicule, vice, and
folly could heap upon them ; and the lame, the blind, the hump-
backed, were brought to them, in irony, to heal : but they perse-
vered. When their European clothes were worn out, barefooted
and bareheaded, clothed in the tappa, they crossed rivers, pene-
trated valleys, and descended mountains, to preach Christ cruci-
fied ; yet, for nineteen years, their labours appeared to be in vain.
In the twentieth year, however, some persons of influence listened,
and declared their belief. Wars existed, and the effects were se-
verely felt, until it was observed that the Christians did not pursue
to death the wives and children of the conquered, as others did.
After several defeats, Pomarre, a powerful chief, embraced
Christianity, and with him, the whole island, in obedience to his
will, adopted the Christian religion. It was only, however, a state-
conversion, not understood, therefore not sincere. The idols were
burnt, and the morais destroyed and polluted; yet, though pa-
ganism disappeared, Christianity was not felt. For a few years
they were outwardly decorous ; the distillation of spirits ceased,
and honesty was visible — for property might be left on the shore
and would not be touched, unless to restore it. Pomarre was a
man of talent. He cast off all his wives but one ; yet he indulged
in drinking to excess. His government was strong, and he was
obeyed. At his death, a boy succeeded to the command : the
South Sea Islands. 183
regent was a sensible, intelligent man, who consulted much with
Mr. Notts. But this prince died at seven years old ; and his sister
now reigns, who is married, and yet indulges in the lowest sensual
gratifications. She is frequently diseased ; and is obeyed, but
spoken of with great disrespect. Her example is producing in-
jurious effects, as she lives in the society of forty or fifty persons
of the same taste as herself.
Thus it is that the anomaly exists. The principal chiefs are
siucere in their religion, but the mass of the people are not influ-
enced, except to an external observance of Christianity. The ma-
jority attend the church, and are attentive, sing the hymns, and
show every mark of devotion. They have also destroyed the spirit-
stills, but will get drunk whenever they can obtain liquor. I
helped an old chief to half a pint of rum, and he drank that, and
in two hours another half-pint, without any apparent effect. I
inquired the cause, and was answered, that the ava was an intoxi-
cating sedative, whose effects soon ceased ; that they drank
spirits to produce this effect, as they cannot understand the use
of spirits except to produce such an effect. Yet Hitoti, Parfai,
and Tarti dined frequently with me, and drank wine as usual in
1 saw every missionary in Otaheite, Eimeo, and Raiatea, and
can truly affirm that they are all respected and loved, as teachers of
good; and that they are considered as pastors. It has been asserted
that the natives are jealous of them as cultivators of land, and
destroy the crops in their gardens, lest they should possess enough
to sell to the shipping : but, on inquiry, it appeared that the
thefts arose from anxiety to enjoy the vegetable, and that the
attack was not directed against the individual or the missionaries.
Every one possesses a pig, yet he prefers selling to using it, be-
cause custom compels him to share it with his neighbours. If
sold, he alone receives the price.
There is a depraved class to be found at every port, called
Toute Ouree, or rusty iron, who observe no religion, and are very
They have no wish for wars, but appeared happy in their pre-
sent peace and enjoyment.
They are indolent from disposition as well as from the little ne-
cessity for exertion, food being so plentiful : whether necessity
will create a change, when a more abundant population presses
upon the means of subsistence, I cannot say. Fishing they
pursue with steadiness. In our excursions, the natives appeared
to suffer much more fatigue from the walk than we did. They
could not understand the unceasing occupation of a man-of-war :
" The mouth is always open," one said to me, " there is no rest."
1 84 South Sea Islands.
Corpulency is considered a beauty, and a fair complexion is much
admired : both of these attainments are sought for by keeping
within doors, and doing nothing.
We heard no music ; and even psalmody was without music :
but one night I heard two women sing a ditty in a very pleasing,
We saw no dancing, wrestling, or athletic exercises. I never
saw a man dig or plant ; but I have seen them gather the vege-
table, cook, and assist to carry and eat the food. The day was
passed in sleeping, lolling, or talking, unless the hut required
thatching or repairing, In our boat excursions, in only one in-
stance did I ever see a native touch an oar, although the boat's
crew had rowed for a considerable time. In a whale-boat, solely
manned by natives, this indolence prevailed, although occasionally
they would row with great vigour : of five oars, three were com-
monly at rest for some trifling reason.
The men dress partly in European clothes, but more frequently
in tapas, of a square shape, with a slit in the centre, through
which the head passes ; the cloth hangs loose before and behind,
and under it is a waist-girdle of many folds, passing round the
loins ; with a short petticoat before and behind, dropping to the
knees. The women dress on gala days in a calico shift, closely
buttoned to the neck, entirely concealing the figure ; with a white
straw bonnet, edged with red ribbon. The week-day dress is the
same, but of native cloth. The men search for and dress the
food, which consists of cocoa-nut, tara, bread-fruit, plantain, and
arrow-root. The women make the cloth.
It is to be regretted that their huts are placed in low, damp
spots ; but custom induces them to live in the centre of their
land, near the sea. The missionaries tried to have their houses
built on an ascent, but found the servants would not stay, as they
would not go any distance for water, and would be near their
friends ; so they were compelled to return to the flat.
In the missionary report we saw the names of Bogue's, Haweis',
Griffin's Towns, &c. Nothing can be more absurd than thus
to give names to towns that do not exist. On every level spot
near the sea, huts are built, but each in the centre of the owner's
own land, so that no street can or does exist. The town of Utenon
is the only exception to this. A town implies order in building,
with a street or road through its centre, but here the houses are
scattered in every direction, without a road or street passing near
to them ; nothing but a path, which is either wet or dry, according
to the weather. They have no wheelbarrows, carts, or other
vehicles, on which to carry burthens ; nor will they adopt them :
hence the difficulty of building stone houses, and hence also the
South Sea Islands. 185
want of public highways beyond the width of four feet, which stop
at a brook or diverge, as suits convenience.
Tonga Islands. — Tonga. — Tonga is governed by two kings
and eleven chiefs. The king, Touetonga, is a pagan ; he was
partly instructed in the Christian religion, but relapsed, in dread of
losing his power. He is a young man, about thirty ; presides
over all ceremonies, and is acknowledged as superior, being con-
sidered as descended from the spirit ; but his power is only no-
minal, as he is not permitted to tight or command in war, or to
give counsel. It is the duty of the people to respect him, and to
provide for him food, houses, wives, or concubines. He is a state
king. He lives at Mona.
The next to him is Touboutini, a Christian, elected war-king :
superior in war and in council, he leads the armies, makes treaties,
makes peace : is of middle age, approaching fifty ; and appears
to be of mild character, — slow, easily led, and disliking war. He
dined with me twice. When applied to for advice, he gave an
opinion, but requested that the advice might not be quoted as
his on shore. The people did not pay him that respect which
Finou received at Vavao. He has lost much of his authority by
his conversion ; and is the only chief, except Too-boo-too-tie,
his nephew, who has thus embraced Christianity. The uncle
attends the class-meetings, but objects to meet any one but his
ministers in the class. The nephew declines to attend the
class. The missionaries were ignorant of the law respecting
land, therefore I could only gather information from the resi-
dent sailors, James Read, who had lived eight years at Tonga,
and Thomas Wright, a pardoned convict, late servant to the mis-
sionaries, who had resided there five years ; both serving as inter-
preters to Too-boo-too-tie. They state that Touetonga is con-
sidered as sole proprietor of the island — the chiefs holding under
him ; but that he could not displace a chief from his land. The
island is divided into thirteen portions, a chief being the proprie-
tor of each ; — the inferior chief, the mataboule, or persons between
the inferior chiefs and the peasants, and the peasant residing on
the lands given to him by the chief. The chief can and frequently
does displace the peasants ; claiming also an arbitrary portion of
the produce of the soil, or of the pigs. There are no taxes, but
the chief sends for that portion of the vassal's pigs or yams which
he desires. The same occurs also in Tapa.
The kings and chiefs reserve a portion of land for their own
use, for raising vegetables. Land seems to be acquired by right
of conquest, consequently can be lost by the same means. Too-
boo-too-tie had lost his land in war ; and Tovoufa, a chief re-
186 South Sea Islands.
siding at Tabaira, was an inferior chief, who by his skill in war
had acquired Tabaira and much land. He was more dreaded
than any other chief. How this transfer agrees with the vassalage
to Touetonga I do not know.
The population of Tonga was stated to me to be twelve thou-
sand ; having been much diminished by wars, which were repre-
sented as very frequent ; although neither Brown, at Vavao, nor
Read, at Mona, had ever assisted. They are cannibals, eating
their enemies : Read remembered several persons taken in battle
to have been eaten.
The island is in a great measure cultivated, and the cultivation
will increase as the demand for the supply of shipping increases.
Yet my officers saw many tracts in Tonga, and more in Vavao,
that were waste. The soil in these islands is superior to the soil
of the Society Islands : but Tonga is so flat, that no bird's-eye view
can be taken of it ; and the view is everywhere very much confined,
as the trees are numerous and thick. The trees at Tonga are not
so fine as at Vavao, because the soil rests directly on the coral
rock, and is not so deep ; the yam, plantain, banana, tara, and
sugar-cane, of great size and richness, used only for eating, are
cultivated, as is the kava : the shaddock is not much esteemed.
Cocoa-nut milk is the chief drink, as the wells are merely tide
wells, which increase and diminish with the rise and fall. The
water is brackish, and is rarely used by the natives, except for kava
The women appear to be happy and respected ; their duties are
the care of the children and the manufacture of tapa and dresses.
When I visited the huts in the morning, I usually found the mo-
ther sitting in the middle of her clean hut, surrounded by her
children, occupied with the tapa. I found several converts em-
ployed in copying histories from the bible, or hymns. They acquire
the knowledge of writing and reading with great facility : their
continued leisure gives much opportunity for these acquirements.
In our tour through these islands we had great reason to admire
the general accuracy of Captain Cook ; — his description of the
houses, fences, manners of the Hapais, &c. is correct to the pre-
sent day. His spelling of names and words is frequently wrong,
but this error has been ascertained by the longer residence of
English in these islands. I am of opinion, that the Feenou of
1775 dissuaded Captain Cook from visiting Vavao, solely to keep
him ignorant of its superiority over the other islands. Mariner's
description of a kava feast is exact ; so are his descriptions of the
fortresses of Nicolofaa and Fellatoa. I could add more, but the
account would be a repetition of Captain Cook's observations.
I can say nothing of their religion, as I made no inquiry about
South Sea Islands. 187
their religious opinions. The missionaries, Messrs. Turner and
Cross, Wesleyans, resided at Nicolofaa, in houses built by order
of Touboutini, the king. A new chapel was building for them in
the most elevated spot in the island, in the late fortress of Nico-
lofaa ; if white-washed, it will be an excellent sea-mark. They
are hardworking, industrious teachers, and of good private charac-
ters ; but are ignorant of their own language. Their congregation
consists of about three hundred persons, and is said to be slowly
increasing. They do not interfere in any questions amongst the
natives, but confine themselves to their religious duties. They
are not traders. I cautioned them against proposing laws to the
Roads extended from one end of the island to the other, and
were in general good ; about five feet wide.
We heard of ten bullocks, but did not see them ; one was killed
whilst we were there, and we received a quarter, which was excel-
lent. Pigs and poultry were to us abundant, not so to the na-
tives. The chiefs enjoy meat or poultry daily, but the peasant
only tastes it on feast days.
There is no trade. The sugar-cane and arrow-root are grown
solely for domestic use : we saw the tobacco plant. Sinnet, of
the husk of cocoa-nut, is made, exported to New South Wales,
and, we were told, sold for forty pounds the ton at Sidney, to
Provisions, namely, hogs, yams, and bananas, can be procured
in great plenty, particularly the two last. The cost to government
of the hogs used by the crew was one halfpenny the pound ; for
vegetables, one farthing the pound.
There is no currency : the Spanish dollar has been seen, but its
value is unknown. No currency can exist without domestic or
foreign trade ; and in these islands there is neither ; every man
grows his own food, makes his own cloth, builds his house, and
makes his tools. We purchased everything by barter ; giving
table-knives, with sharp points, for hogs ; chisels and blue beads
for shells : but the article in the greatest estimation is the coloured
printed Manchester goods, of gaudy patterns. Any cutlery but
needles, gouges, gimblets, or saws (except cross-cut), was of no
value ; scissors and blunt-ended knives were in doubtful estima-
tion ; small hatchets, worth little ; but felling axes and adzes were
On the 27th May, 1830, we were present at a feast given by
Parton, chief of Moree, to Touetonga, chief king of Tougataboo,
upon occasion of his return from a visit to the Harpais. At 9
a.m., Touetonga was seated under the large kava-house, an oval
building, open on all sides, with his officers arranged on either
188 South Sea Islands.
side. An aged female sat a little on his right, to attend on him.
The building stood not quite in the centre of an inclosure. In
front, about fifty yards from Touetonga, were placed two large
kava-bowls, on each side of which, in a semicircle, sat the chiefs
and principal persons ; behind them sat the others. A staff-
bearer, on the left of Touetonga, ordered each cup of kava, as it
was filled, to be carried to some person whose name was an-
nounced : the kava-bearers presented the cup squatting. After
the kava was finished, a game was played by two parties of chiefs,
twenty chiefs on each side, Touetonga being one : the game was
to pitch spears perpendicularly into an upright post of screw-pine,
of a foot diameter. The first player threw his spear horizontally,
the second and the others threw theirs to fall point downwards.
It requires considerable skill ; out of twenty, only five succeeded :
the other side succeeded in fixing about an equal number. The
game was thirty ; but neither side obtained the number, although
they had repeated innings. Touetonga fixed one spear, and
Parton two. The thrower stands about five yards from the mark,
and the art is to cause the spear to fall perpendicularly on the
mark. When the game was over, the pigs were brought into the
inclosure, and counted. Touetonga being seated as at first, they
were distributed : we received four, with yams in proportion.
After dinner, the dancers practised ; and after dark we again
assembled in the inclosure, which was lighted by torch-bearers.
The chorus sat in the centre of a circle, consisting of from thirty
to forty men : the leader had three hollow bamboos placed on
the ground, on which he beat ; others made the base by striking
bamboos, closed at the lower end, perpendicularly on the ground ;
another part clapped their hands like cymbals : the leader sang a
tenor note to the tune, which note sounded without cessation. I
tried in vain to learn how this was performed ; the time was per-
fect, the voices in exact cadence. During five hours the chorus
was only changed twice. The dancing commenced by the women
standing in a circle, facing the chorus, keeping exact time to the
chorus, which they accompanied with a song. The hands and
head were in perpetual motion, of the most graceful attitude,
occasionally curtseying or turning half or quite round. Eighty
women performed in each dance ; and each moved the hand at
the same instant, in the same attitude. The tune was changed
from slow to quick, by degrees, until it was very quick ; the whole
body from the feet upwards was in motion : it ended in a shout.
Another dance, of an equal number of women, followed, which
was succeeded by four dances of men ; the only difference was,
that the men frequently danced with their feet, the women scarcely
moved their feet off the ground. The whole sight was delightful.
South Sea Islands. 189
The women were clothed from the waist downwards, the arms and
bosom bare, displaying their beautiful busts ; the lower dress was
tasty and beautiful, consisting of folds of tapa, ornamented with
beads and flowers. It afforded us great pleasure to attend their
dressing ; and it amused them not a little to see us examining the
ornaments as they were brought by dressers. The women are
modest, but very courteous. We admired every ornament, until,
to complete the dress, quantities of cocoa-nut oil, perfumed with
sandal-wood, were lavished over the head, arms, neck, and part of
the body. Parton's daughter led one dance, his wife another ;
each about fifteen years old, and very handsome. Touetonga led
one dance of men ; his son, a boy of eleven years, another. It
requires some strength to sing and dance at the same moment,
particularly towards the end. I accompanied the song the last
quarter of an hour, and was fatigued, although sitting. The men
were clothed except the arms, and each appeared in uniform ex-
cept the leaders. The quantity of tapa round the waist was so
great as to entirely destroy the figure in both sexes, projecting in
part at least six inches beyond the body. At half-past eleven the
Native Names. Linnean Names.
Me Artocarpus incisa.
„ Calophyllum Inophyllum.
„ Cordia sebestena.
„ Hibiscus sp.
„ Barringtonia speciosa.
Tou Hibiscus tiliaceus.
Toa Casuarina muricata.
Tfe Inocarpus edulis.
,, Ficus tinctoria.
Ovava Ficus indica, very large.
, Tournefortia species.
„ Hernandia do.
Rhus Javanica, — this is peculiar to these islands ; is very com-
mon, and of large size, but useless as a timber tree.
Mawla, or Awla, a large tree, — wood solid, and close grained ;
it is used to make spears, Stc. It would be useful to cabinet-
Coca, — this is the Kohha of Captain Cook ; close-grained and
heavy timber ; used as the principal supports of the roofs of houses ;
the bark is also used as a dye ; it has very much the appearance of
Brazil wood in colour, &c. The casuarina of these islands is a
different species from that of the Society Islands ; it is not so
plentiful, neither are the trees so fine as those of the latter island.
190 South Sea Islands.
Native Names. Linnean Names.
Bawlo Capsicum frutescens.
Papalanga Pisum sativum.
Introduced Brassica oleracea.
Ditto Allium cepa.
Oofi Dioscorea sativa.
Oofi „ aculeata.
Goomala Convolvulus Batatas.
Hina papalangi . . . Cucurbita citrullus.
Introduced Cucumis sativus.
Talo Caladium sagittifolium.
Mahoa Tacca pinnatifida.
Introduced Phaseolus nanus.
Nue Cocos nucifera.
Me Artocarpus incisa.
Foochi Musa paradisiaca.
Moli Citrus medica.
Moli ,, decumana.
Introduced Bromelia ananas.
Foochi Musa sapientum.
Ve Spondias dulcis.
Ife Inocarpus edulis.
Vavao. — Having beard from Mr. Henry, master of the Snapper,
of Sidney, Port Jackson, and from the Rev. Mr. Turner, of
Tongataboo, missionary, that two English merchant vessels had
been attacked by the natives at Port Refuge, Isle of Vavao, I
considered it to be my duty, notwithstanding that my going thither
would delay me beyond the proper period of my departure for
Lima, to proceed thither. The Seringapatam reached Vavao on
the 4th, in the evening ; on the 5th I sent an intimation of
the purpose of my visit; and on the 6th I rowed up to Fellatoa,
accompanied by Lieutenant Paulson, Rev. A. Watson, chap-
lain, and Mr. Matthews, and was directed to the great kava-
house, where 1 found the king seated ; Brown, an Englishman, on
his left hand; on either side the principal chiefs, in front the lesser
chiefs ; around the house, on the green between the Tiatoka of the
late king and the kava-house, were seated about three thousand
South Sea Islands. 191
people : he desired me to be seated. Standing before him with my
hat on, my officers also standing, 1 answered, " I am sent by King
George to inquire of you, Finow, why you rose upon, and
murdered, the captain of the Elizabeth and the Rambler whalers ;
can I sit until you have told me why you committed these dreadful
acts ?" He trembled with fear : his countenance expressed dread
of some punishment, and anger at the indignity he received in
being questioned in the presence of his people. " Look at that
priest 1 have brought — he is a token that I come not to punish,
but to inquire." He stated, in a low tone, " That the master of
the Rambler and he had traded very amicably, when two of his
crew deserting, he threatened violence, and attempted to find
them by force, instead of applying to him to recover them, and
fired guns at the people on the beach. The men were restored on
board, the captain had the folly to go on shore, when the people
rose on him, killed him, and his boat's crew. Of the Elizabeth, he
said that the master and he also traded as friends, and the master
agreed to give a rifle gun in exchange ; before he left, when ready
to go, he demanded the gun, it was refused : I reflected ; I and
my people will be fired upon, as by the Rambler ; I will begin
first. I rose, killed the master, and some men ; I am very sorry
that I have done so, and will not do so again." I replied, " I will
tell King George what you have said, and that you are sorry."
" Do you forgive ?" " I have no power to forgive ; I am sent to
inquire.'' " Will you not drink kava ?" I uncovered my head,
and sat down cross-legged ; the people showed their joy by a
shout ; the kava was brought and received by me ; he then in-
vited me to sleep on shore, which, after retiring to consult my offi-
cers, I consented to ; again the people shouted ; the kava was
drank, and we retired to another private house, which was remark-
able for its neat and cleanly appearance ; a double cocoa-nut mat
covered the floor ; he desired me to send the officers away, as he
wished to talk to me. We sat three hours, during which time he
repeated, over and over again, the story of the murders, and his
sorrow. After dinner, he would shoot, and missed all the birds
sitting on the trees, but killed an unlucky fowl sitting, which was
killed, plucked, baked, and eaten in half an hour ; another bowl of
kava. He requested my cap, which was given. In the evening, we
had a dance in the large kava-house ; after two more suppers, we
went to sleep in his private house. After breakfast, the next morn-
ing, I proposed his going on board, to which he consented, but
his minister desired a pledge from myself, before the people, that
they should return on shore again, which I gave, and offered a
hostage, adding, " My surgeon goes four miles in the island to see
your favourite nephew, my chaplain goes with him, could I leave
them in your hands, and intend to injure you? King George
192 South Sea Islands.
would hang me if I hurt you after a promise : enough, let us go."
We embarked in two boats, accompanied by twenty-nine persons.
As we passed the canoes, they cheered ; on his mounting the deck,
the marines delighted him, they performed the manual exercise ;
wine was served to him and his chiefs twice : he went all over the
ship, examined everything, sat on the after combings, and tried to
blow the boatswain's call. Hearing the drum beat for the officers'
dinner, he followed the servants, and sat down to dinner. After he
had dined, he quitted, and came to my cabin, when he sat down
again to dinner. The marines were again exercised for half an
hour; the natives, delighted, — shouted. At thirty minutes after
three, p.m., he quitted the ship in the barge ; at nine, the barge
returned loaded with yams as a present from him.
Finow is an absolute king ; his orders are most strictly and in-
stantly obeyed : he is under thirty years of age, is a pagan, has
three wives and two children : he can only marry the daughters of
great chiefs. The eldest son born of the wife, daughter of the
greatest chief, is the successor ; his concubines were numerous.
The population was stated to be between five and six thousand,
but this was a guess. The diseases are elephantiasis, hydrocele, and
an eruptive, contagious disease called tarra : this disease is fre-
quently fatal to the children ; with adults, it lasts from four months
to two years ; the body is covered with a small scab ; every one has
it once, but never twice.
Of the islands we visited, Vavao far excelled all the others : its
harbour is excellent, perfectly landlocked, of great extent, with
numerous entrances, all to the west ; the water good, and might
abound, were more wells dug, for the island is hilly, and has a clay
bottom ; it is said to contain a fresh-water lake, but this was not
seen by us. The yams are excellent, as are the bread-fruit and
bananas ; hogs and poultry were tabooed that they might abound
at a great feast to be given at the Harpais boat races ; two years
since was a very dry, hot summer at Vavao : this summer produced
a mortality amongst the pigs, the greater portion died, and the
taboo then commenced until the island is replenished.
The island appeared to be covered with timber, no less than
eight different species of timber were shown to me ; but the
joiner declined giving specimens. Mr. Matthews, the botanist,
walked twelve miles in the island, and saw the trees, which grew
unpruned, neglected, overrun with the wild yam, and a convol-
vulus, covering, as a curtain, the trees beneath : this causes the
trees to be stumpy and full of boughs ; he thinks that it would be
difficult to find a plank twelve feet long, and a foot square.
When land is to be cleared for planting, the wild yam and convol-
vulus are set on fire, which soon spreads to the trees, burning all
the vegetation in this space between the bare trunks of the trees,
South Sea Islands. 193
the vegetable yam is planted, the land is kept clear until exhausted,
when the wild yam and convolvulus again resume their place,
spreading over the leafless arms of the trees, giving them an ap-
pearance of vigour which they do not enjoy.
The basis of the island is coral rock, which vises many feet
above the present level of the sea : the action of fire is visible on
it, and we saw several instances of its crystallization. The figs and
other trees start from the bare rock ; the decay of their foliage
soon produces a vegetable soil : it was delightful to behold the
root descending from above to the earth, where, after firm hold, its
tension is as great as if produced by art. On the top of the hills
the soil appeared to be much deeper ; and, by the vigour of the
trees in open spaces, might be of ten feet depth. In the double
ditch of the fortress of Fellatoa, of four feet depth, the soil was
as good at the bottom as at the top.
Mr. Matthews seems to think that it would not be easy to get
out the timber cut in the interior, from the want of means of con-
veyance, the obstruction of inferior trees, and the steep ascent and
descent of the hills ; but. the chief difficulty is the government.
The soil and everything in the island are the king's. Should an
industrious man cultivate tobacco, or clear ground, or prune trees,
the king sees or hears of it, and sends for it : the king, or chief
under him, assumes all the vegetables, poultry, or hogs, as his own,
and, in barter, puts the price on each, which either is paid to him
or to the grower ; if a present is made to the king or chief, it is
instantly distributed amongst the followers, except that part which
the chief allots to himself.
I stated to Finow, that the missionaries are not sent by the
King of England, but by good men in England, and that he
might receive or send them away ; but if he received them, he
must treat them with kindness, protect them from harm, else he
would, displease King George, who would not permit his children
to be murdered or ill-treated.
They were clean in their persons : the foreskin of the prepuce
is slit at puberty. Both sexes are naked from the waist upwards,
oiling all the parts exposed with cocoa-nut oil, perfumed with
sandal wood ; from the waist down, they wear drapery of tapa,
and a girdle of many folds round the waist. The king puts on a
new dress every day. This dress showed the beautiful forms of
the young women. Finow was always on shore attended by four
young female servants, one on each side to fan him, and two for
messages. The male figure is strong, muscular, and athletic ; dif-
fering from the European in the short humerus, and short thighs,
giving, in our opinion, an undue length to the fore-arm and leg; —
in the leg, however, the disproportion is not so visible, as it is
always concealed, except in dancing, when they wear nothing but
194 South Sea Islands.
a short apron in front, leaving the whole back figure exposed.
When standing by the sailors, the natives looked large; their well-
turned muscles, erect carriage, and graceful walk, gave a very
striking appearance ; but they cannot work two hours together,
and a two hours' walk fatigues and exhausts them ; they lie down
to sleep, and are always eating, lolling, or talking ; yet their dances
are very fatiguing, as they both sing, as music to the dance, and
The single women, and sometimes the married women, sleep
in parties, in a large hut ; at night the young men visit them ;
they embrace, and the girl is permitted to receive the embraces of
any man until she is married, when she can receive no one but her
husband ; if unfaithful, she is beaten ; a club-fight follows between
the husband and adulterer.
This license is not permitted to foreigners; no women can be
obtained except by order of the chiefs, as the woman becomes
polluted by the connexion, and is only excused if obeying an order
of the chief; no bribe, no offer will avail.
The men are tattooed from the hips to the knees, in front and
behind ; the women ridicule a man not thus tattooed ; as it is a very
expensive and painful process, continuing a fortnight, nothing but
the ridicule of the women would induce them to bear it ; the
women are tattooed in the legs and feet in a very pretty manner
•with small stars as a spotted stocking.
Wars, Wae-Canoes, &c. — No war existed at any of the
islands we visited. At Noahevah there was every disposition for
war, but they were at peace. In the Society Islands, the dis-
position of the chiefs and inhabitants appeared to be so peace-
able, that we could not see a probability of war ; we did not see
any war-canoes there either, nor did we hear of any, or of any
quantity of arms.
In the Friendly Islands we saw several war-canoes in good pre-
servation ; spears, clubs, were in every house, and some fire-arms.
At Fellatoa, in the grand kava house, over head, we saw a store
of spears and other warlike instruments. At the first interview
■with Know, each man had a war-club concealed under his waist-
cloth ready for service at the orders of Finow.
A double war-canoe at Fellatoa, to carry two hundred men,
measured ninety feet long, eighteen broad, and four deep, with a
stage of two stories in its centre ; it consisted of two long canoes
placed parallel, joined by frame-work in the centre ; they were both
decked, and only open in the hold, amidships ; six rowers, with
upright paddles placed abaft the stage, of twelve or fourteen feet,
propelled it ; when rowing, the force required was such that few
men could row a paddle three minutes ; when sailing, a mast
stepped amidships. I did not see any war-canoe afloat ; but they
were at peace.
South Sea Islands. 1Q5
(Furnished by Mr. Guthrie, Surgeon of H.M.S. Seringapatam.)
Noahevah, Marquesas. — With the exception of two cases of
phthisis, and a few slight cases of elephantiasis, ulcers were the
only disease I observed among these people ; they were ex-
tensive and very prevalent, more so among the males than the
females, occupying chiefly the extremities ; not occurring among
the children ; and though the cicatrices were observable among
the old, few that I saw had open ulcers. No attention being
paid by the natives to the most extensive of their sores, they
were covered with an eschar, so that their true character could not
be ascertained ; but I am inclined to think them of a syphilitic
character, occurring in scrofulous habits ; and independent of
seeing some who had lost the bones of their noses, we had ample
proofs of their having the former disease.
Food at this time is evidently plentiful, but this state of abun-
dance certainly does not continue throughout the year, as they
have large quantities of an acid substance, made from the bread-
fruit, cocoa-nut, and banana, prepared and kept in troughs, for
the season of scarcity. Whether this could operate as a cause I
am unable to say ; but I have no doubt of the bad effects of the
damp — their beds, consisting of a thin mat, being placed on the
moist and often wet earth : other powerful causes no doubt exist,
but which I have no means of ascertaining.
Society Islands. — At Otaheite and the other Society Islands,
elephantiasis prevails to a great extent, and is not, as is generally
supposed, confined to the natives, — most of the missionaries and
many other Europeans are now labouring under it ; it attacks the
scrotum as well as the legs and arms. The scrotum of a Spaniard
I saw at Otaheite weighed about one hundred and eighty pounds ;
and that of a native at Raiatea weighed about one hundred pounds.
Mr. Williams, the missionary at Raiatea, who, by books and
observation, has attained a considerable knowledge of disease, in-
formed me, that having yielded to the earnest solicitations of a few
chiefs of that island to cup them (all the natives being fond of
topical bleeding in all diseases), he made several incisions with a
lancet in the lower part of the leg affected, and took away some
blood, with cupping-glasses, with complete success. This report
induced me to comply with the wishes of Mr. Blossom, mis-
sionary-artizan, then at Raiatea, who had laboured under the
disease in one of his legs for nearly seven years ; I applied the
scarification a little above the outer ancle, and with the cupping-
glasses took away twenty-five ounces of blood. Two days after,
the leg was reduced several inches, though he did not confine
] 96 South Sea Inlands.
himself; and I have no doubt but that a repetition of this remedy
would remove the disease.
Large abscesses forming in various parts of the body is another
affection common at these islands, but more at Otaheite than else-
where. The loins and between the shoulders are the parts most
frequently attacked ; it begins with severe pains in the part,
attended with little inflammation, generally attacking the young
and athletic, reducing them to the lowest state of debility ; and
often ending in death, unless an early exit is given to the matter.
Hydrocele is a prevalent disease. Deformity of the dorsal verte-
bra and the other bones of the chest is very common at all these
islands ; it is said to succeed to an affection of the thoracic and
abdominal viscera, and that when this deformity does not take
place, death is the consequence. Remittent and intermittent
fevers prevail at certain seasons of the year, particularly at Hua-
heine, owing no doubt to the marshy nature of the grounds sur-
rounding the settlement. Visceral inflammation is common, as
are also most of the diseases common in inter-tropical climates.
Tonga, or Friendly Islands. — At these islands an eruptive pus-
tular disease prevails ; it resembles in appearance the small-pox,
but leaves only a slight redness of the part, which soon wears off.
It is said to be contagious, attacking the young, and beginning
on the feet, gradually spreading over the body. It is called by the
natives " tana" or " tona." Strangers residing for a considerable
time are generally attacked with it, and suffer more than the na-
tives. At Vavao, hydrocele prevails to great ex ent ; puucture
of the scrotum is the palliative, and excision of the testicle is the
radical cure for it. After the latter operation, the patient is kept
in a state of perfect quiet for a long period. Scrofula, affecting
principally the cervical and mesenteric glands, is a disease prevail-
ing to a great extent both at Vavao and Tongataboo ; and, of
course, they suffer more or less from diseases common in these